Local News

Warthogs Make Final Takeoff From Pope Air Base

Posted December 19, 2007

— Another piece of Pope Air Force Base's history flew away Wednesday when the final three A-10 fighter jets stationed at the base took off for the last time.

The A-10s, also known as "Warthogs," have been stationed at Pope since 1992. The jets fly low over battlefields to help soldiers and Marines on the ground.

"It's the best at doing it. It can withstand much battle damage and still do the mission. So, you can put it through a lot of tests, and it can still be there," Air Force Staff Sgt. Derrick Dodd said.

All of the F-16 fighter jets that also had been based at Pope were moved to other bases a decade ago, making the Warthogs the only remaining fighters at the base.

The only aircraft still at Pope is a fleet of C-130 cargo planes.

The A-10s are being moved to Moody Air Force Base, in Valdosta, Ga., as part of the military's Base Realignment and Closure process. About 1,000 Air Force members and their families will leave the Cumberland County area by 2011, when the Army will take control of the base to align it more closely to the needs of neighboring Fort Bragg.

"It's bittersweet ... that we say goodbye to Pope and a lot of history, a lot of deployments, a lot of hard work, a lot of exercises (and) a lot of day-to-day stuff that no one sees," Air Force Col. Russell Myers said at a farewell ceremony Wednesday morning.

The 23rd Fighter Group, which flies and maintains the A-10s, still carries the Fighting Tigers name from World War II, and the jets continue to have the group's trademark bared teeth and fangs painted on their noses.

"Eighty percent of the time, you won't see this in the press because it's a little ugly," Myers said of the jet's somewhat lumpy design.

After the farewell ceremony, Myers and two other pilots climbed into the cockpits of the three A-10s remaining on the base, gave a thumbs up signal as the jet engines roared and paraded the craft past saluting airmen gathered along taxiways before taking off for good.

"We spent a lot of time together as pilot and crew chief," Dodd said. "To launch it and send it off, it's kind of hard."

He will eventually follow Myers to Moody AFB.

"You've still got the Army here to take care of the community here, so it should be all good," he said.


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  • syracuseinwonderland Dec 20, 2007

    "It came to light when one of the fighters creamed into the Green Ramp and killed several soldiers."

    That was a horrible day. The F-16 tail-ended a C-130 inflight, skipped across the flightline into a C-141 before crashing into the soldiers. Very sad day.

  • jjoyner Dec 20, 2007

    cgoogly68 "Can't expect reporters, who hate the military, to understand anything about the weapons that provide them with freedom of the press."

    It's a good thing they also provide YOU the freedom to sit at home behind your computer and make ridiculous blanket statements like this. I know the guy who wrote the story.. you could not be more wrong... Shame on you.

  • RonnieR Dec 19, 2007

    The F-16s had to go because the lease from the Army speicified that NO fighter (F) nor prusuit (P) AC could be based there.
    It came to light when one of the fighters creamed into the
    Green Ramp and killed several soldiers. I remember being at
    Willie's that night and hearing the Chief Engineer saying that
    the fighters would go or he would have the USAF declared in violation of their lease agreement and kick them off the base.

  • skidkid269 Dec 19, 2007

    I wouldn't call the 30 mm cannon a "mini-gun"! We had 20 mm rounds in the Cobra, and I thought those were huge. (It was for "suppression fire" because the Geneva Convention outlaws the use of anything over a 50 cal on personnel. We were just supposed to make the enemy duck. I'm sure that's how it's used.)

  • syracuseinwonderland Dec 19, 2007

    "And with their extremely over-sized engines, they somehow looked alive." joefly1964

    They appear to be oversized because they are turbo-fans. Turbo-fans are quieter than jets, and the exhaust is much cooler (which helps out a bit when a heat-seeking missle is fired at the aircraft).

  • syracuseinwonderland Dec 19, 2007

    "I recall reading years ago that this plane was designed around its armament"cgoogly68

    Yep the 30mm cannon is centered in the fuselage the nose gear is mounted off to the side.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 19, 2007

    Whether its an "Attack" Jet or has Twin-Turbo Fan Engines, I don't really care. I will say I had the privilege to work periodically at Pope Air Base in the early 1990's. There was a road that went around the end of the runway. They had stoplights on the road on either side of the landing path. I had the privilege to be stopped at that light while two A-10 Warthogs were playing Cat and Mouse and doing touch and go landings. It was an awesome sight. The teeth and fangs are very visible on the nose of the planes. And with their extremely over-sized engines, they somehow looked alive. After the light changed and I drove around the end of the runway, I parked near the building where I was to work. I stood in the parking lot and watched for another 10 minutes. Quite an awesome sight to see.

  • cgoogly68 Dec 19, 2007

    I recall reading years ago that this plane was designed around its armament - basically an airborne platform for a large caliber mini gun and the required ammo. But that's from memory - anyone care to update that?

  • syracuseinwonderland Dec 19, 2007

    "the A10 is a jet, it's not a fighter jet. it's a close ground support/attack jet, an awesome piece of machinery!" mojo0709

    "(The A-10 has two jet engines.)" DontBelieveTheHype

    It has turbo-fan engines, not jet engines. The A-10 is not a jet.

  • skidkid269 Dec 19, 2007

    I didn't think the Corps had A-10s. When I was in, we had the OV-10, which in no way can be confused with the A-10. They were phased out in the late 80s. I've always enjoyed the A-10. Not bad for an Air Force bird!